tv Playing Through the Whistle CSPAN January 2, 2017 12:45pm-1:51pm EST
year, heard more of the story from all the different relatives. and then pieced them together. you know, some of them, there were some amazing discoveries, for example when my cousin and i realized when she told me she was training in the years i was there. i grabbed a map. and that's essentially how the book was written. any other questions. >> hi, tim powell. i just wanted to say when i knew you guys back in college 30 some
at the carnegie library of pittsburgh and the third string players are getting tonight because the first and second were not available and i am very proud that i snuck in a sports analogy. i am also very pleased to welcome you to this event tonight, to name local event. this event is one of many i wonderful event plot to you through our partnership with pittsburgh arts and lectures. ly the library in pittsburgh arts and lectures have beenn presenting events like this on for many years for broad ranges of audiences. we are always pleased for a very nice positive response to this event and we would invite you to next time bring a friend or two, help us promote peace and keep them going. i want to remind you that the library is open until 8:00 p.m.e tonight's event had over and take your library card this evening. i would like to recognize
classic lines books and more. they will be selling the bookok this evening. i want to make you aware that s.l. price will be signing the book immediately after the event this evening. as i mentioned earlier, i'm newa to working at the main library, but one of my first experiences was hearing about ms. stephanie islam, all of the staff at the library speaks extremely highly of her. or have a long-standing wonderful relationship with her being executive dirk pittsburgh arts and lectures and i have never met her until this evening so i had the great pleasure and i will give you the great pleasure to feel about me to introduce ms. stephanie from stephanie tran 11. >> thank you, jen.
please got a nice group for s.l. price purity is super, super nice. you're going to love him. "playing through the whistle," his truly compassionate exploration of steel, football and american town is the fourth book for scott price, senior writer for "sports illustrated" along with more than three dozen cover stories for "sports illustrated," has also been for "vanity fair" come at "the new york times," time magazine and the oxford american. they have propelled them across the u.s. argentina, libya where he wrote a book. about cuba sports. jamaica, pakistan brazil, australia and china. he has covered 10 olympic games, two world cups and countless grand slam tennis championshipss he's interviewed presidents george w. bush and bill clinton
and played barack obamaplayed bc one-on-one and in iowa ymca. the reviews for his writing not, raving, blowing. "the new york times" whenever price writes about sports, he had said over the fence and i got taken today. npr sports commentator i pay to read a grocery list if scott price threaded. "usa today," prices one of theth finest writers on sports anywhere. earlier today we went over to a sports history class and he shared that he stumbled upon aru quick to and in it he found a microcosm. didn't just produce great football players. aliquippa is where america happened. please give a warm welcome to s.l. price.
[applause]>> wow. be mac well. that was quite the welcome.n't h i don't think i've ever heard me describe, certainly not in myyde own home, that way.in it's funny because i think this is being described as a lecture. you're here for an historic event because i've never really given anything known as a lecture before except to make it and they've never listened even though i paid for their food, ar their rent and everything else. so if you don't listen, i certainly will understand. first of all, thank you all for coming. this is a subject that's incredibly and oddly important to me.
i think it's a special place. if anybody is from that area specifically, i think they understand what i'm talking w about it last friday, bill clinton became the fourth u.s. president to visit aliquippa. by my count, barack obama did spend some time and hopeful of getting some cream during the campaign. but in the balance i believe there's only four presidents have visited. the first is jfk in 1962. two days later, he got news that the russians had put missiles into cuba and the entire cuban missile crisis began. i'm not saying there; than they are. and then jimmy carter came and gave a town hall and george bush also visited at one point. george w. i think that is significant
obviously that bill clintonin a visited you don't get that in a second. the same day, aliquippa played hopewell high for the first time since 1997 and that too is noteworthy to me because the relationship with hope all is interesting.w the to people know that tony dorsett ii believe this obviously from -- he's from the hopewell school district and he played for hopewell. aliquippa would love to claim them as their own and they should. they grew up. he went to hopewell. two things happening were significant to me. i'll start with clinton. what i mean by that is this is a time of 99 people at this point and getting smaller. it is only 27, 28,000, may be a
mess and people is a talent not by any means a large city. and yet there is something and i think the president is testament to this. incredibly special about aliquippa. i first went up there in the fall in the 2010. the editor of "sports illustrated" named mark murray vet, who i believe his grandfather worked with the union and aliquippa and he said, see if your interested. they're producing incredible football players. they're winning championships in at the time is clearly dealing with the forces of the millillsu shutting down and obviously 25 years previously -- sorry, 15 years previously, mid-eighties.
go up and see what you think. so i went and wrote was essentially the longest piecey i've ever read for "sports illustrated." i am there now 22 years. it was nearly 10,000 word and it was a specific story that aliquippa has produced great football players. we all met them at this point. mike, tony dorsett, to some extent.ll jarrell read this, ty law, sean gilbert and a slew of division e players. and athletes in general. so i wrote a story about that and how they were still -- it was kind of a limited story and defensiveness about the law ande about football in the face of great difficulty in great pain and triumph in their back pain. it is a pretty graphic story and
some people didn't like it because it went into the paint to match. the people i wrote about paints me. not me, but they wanted their story told. they want you to understand what it is to make it out in triumph out of aliquippa. you often hear and you wouldn't understand. anybody who's grown-up and lasted never really be said behind. it's got its hooks in you and you really can't get away from it. it had its hooks in me and i didn't even corrupt they are. they sent dan that i thought there was something special going on but i don't quite understand because it's not just football. it is henry mancini when in four academy awards and i think 16 grammy awards.wi
henry mancini growing up next to shoulder terry whose son joe went on to win four academy awards for "lord of the rings" and "avatar." it was james frank, the first black president of the ncaa. jesse steinfeld corrupt on the street from joe in henry and jesse steinfeld became a surgeon general under richard nixon and was fired for his opposition to the tobacco industry. it was -- forgive me for this. ♪ could it be i'm falling in love? does anybody know that song? that or steals. thank you for coming. i can't tell you what an honor it is for me to have dr. melvin
steals here because in many ways,.or steals experience told me how special aliquippa was because first of all he was incredibly honest to me when we spoke about his experience there.n how did i do on that song? not bad. not great. but what i thought was amazing was in doing my research, so i'm finding out all these other people who have come from ali aliquippa. and then i'm finding out if you're excited about the world series last night, you know, i spoke to tito francona and terry with the sun managing the indians last night and terry is from new brighton. tito has lived for a long time. when i called them and said nohs evidence has been from new brighton now but i'm not.
and from aliquippa. make sure you say that. there is this pride of place that continues. bad idea of greatness raising out of tragedy, out of pain is something obviously appealing to any human being does a writer at school. it happened on the football stes field, but to me, that story stuck with me because dr. steals was teaching and aliquippaystemt school system at a time of great racial tunnel. i don't know if you told me this, but i stumbled upon this story for dr. steals wrote a letter to the paper because he was accused wrongly of starting some rays tumbled and fighting and aliquippa for taking students to a movie called holes that anger.
he wasn't the person responsible, but he defended himself there. meanwhile, at a certain time and attention was tight, dr. steals them as brother, who worked at jm al, they both studied music in philadelphia under the great there sits down and had a real-time attention right this beautiful song. could it be i'm falling in love, which is about still send his way and happy anniversary. you should be up here. [applause] back to me with something aboutp aliquippa. the former basketball player and his family story is a tough one. his mother saw some airy test thing and he was emblematic of
many blacks who had come up with the great migration. his family had come up in the 20s and 30s. but even not its toughest time, aliquippa is doing special things. as a writer, you can't resist a story like that. i know that there are many towns in western pennsylvania that has great athletes in this book is clearly not just about athletes. i know that many towns in western pennsylvania had labor troubles and problems with management and search might have problems after the mills shut down. .. ve of the extreme of what has hit western pennsylvania and i would argue the force that is were cut loose in western pennsylvania in the mid-80's when an entire vital
working class was cut out of having the foot hole in the american dream and we are dealing with the oh forces still and so i think this town what has happened to it is important. so, when i say representative in the extreme i mean there were labor management tensions elsewhere but in aliquippa, jones and laughlin had a defacto police state, they called little hell and little siberia and they stoked divisions between ethnic groups. kept them in plans. part of that your family comesrt over, say you come from the ukraine or poland you will want to gather in the family in the community that you recognize but allen enforced that because that was helpful keeping people divide and stopping union
organization. j and l would, as a tactic of division obviously thehe african-americans who came up from the south got the worst jobs and the lower salaries and less chance of advancement, and j&l would take it a step further. they would pay or intimidate black workers to start fights with whites and then very conspicuously allow the, both of them be hauled off to jail and very conspicuously let the black worker go free and inciting more resentment and more resentment. j&l, famously or infamously, there is management tension everywhere but j&l and harry mock and his police force kidnap
ad man named george for passing out union cards and sent him toe insane asylum. the wife of the governor pi in. ch and essentially rode into town and denounced j&l and broke the psycho stranglehold on the town and the wagner act which is really the foundation stone of,a legal foundation of unionism in america and was based and certified before the supreme court, the test case involved the a la quip pa 10, including men, o royal boyle. one of the 10 black men was royal boyle, even there was great representation of blacks in aliquippa. then the crack epidemic hitdruga alley quip past the crack
epidemic hit aliquippa like a typhoon. for example, tony door set's nephew was running the biggest crack ring in town. his, the crack ring was broken finally by mike warfield. a former a la quip pa quarterback who was things happd and extreme strokes. that remains a mystery to me. i wanted to say how and what happened in aliquippa, i won't be able to fully explain why aliquippa produces so many great football players even more than the norm in western pennsylvania. why so many so many dramatic things that forces, cultural forces that worked their way in a negative sense through the rest of the culture, sort of
blossom in such a extreme way in aliquippa. today the mayor of aliquippa is duane walker, the first african-american mayor in aliquippa history. again football is a threw line through all of this. football is not just a place of community, togetherness, and expression of pride but, he, it is just a central narrative thread that is unavoidable when you talk about aliquippa. it doesn't just belong in the pit or the football field. dwane walker's sister, was killed by an aliquippa football player. because of that he was motivated to finally run for office and take office. it's been a extraordinary extra combination of elements that have made aliquippa what it is.
again i was challenged rightfully at a, at, i will get letters every once in a while or notes from people from other towns in western pennsylvania, alley quip parks you should write about braddock or clareton we're just as good. i'm not denying any of that, but there are two things at work when i decided to focus on aliquippa. there were so many names and famous names. makes life easy for a writer because there are a lot of names people don't know. i include a lot of names. every once in a while it is relieving to the reader to see ditka or to see tony dorsett and understand their story. they have seen them on tv so they recognized and so that was helpful. the idea of extremes, representation in the extremes. there is something about this
town that really made me believe, as was said, said in the introduction, not just a place that produced great football but a place where america happened and continues to do so over and over. i, i, i like i said, it was a place of, it was a place that had great racial trouble in the early '70s, starting even way back to the early '60s when there was a lack of black cheerleaders on, basically blac cheerleaders in the school for football and basketball and so on but it really hit a head, was not unique in the, in the county or even in the nation at large. but it really got pretty nasty. i want to, but i want to take you back to a couple things
because, i can't, i can't tell you how much you're dealing with a writer here. not very good at speaking, and not, it is not my training. so i'm going to read a little bit about a great man named geno per rolly, it will all come full circle. you will finally say this guy makes some weird sense. hold on. i will not go to geno piroli yet. i will go to mike ditka, it is great to have a famous name to deal with. so let me, just everybody knows mike ditka, right? i don't need to make a introduction. okay. he was little mike and his dad was big mike at the time. but little mike had this quirk. he knew the rules. he respected rules. he felt better in a world with rules, yet he was constantlyly
breaking the rules anyway, seeking out mischief, taking beatings in return. the he went to st. titus elementary school. served as altar boy. he stole a christmas ornament off the tree at the nearby library and bean ad buddy in th. eye. six stitches, nuns found out, the belt came out, big mike'sut belt. tomatoes thrown at houses. garbage cans turned over, kid's glasses broken, big mike. nearly burned down ditka said. my dad smoke lucky's.co we were in cement cul-de-sac and sitting all over, smoking lucky strikes when years old, you're dizzier, and there go the woods. that goes into the weeds. we tried to put it out. wind is blowing. finally got it out. firemen came. my dad looked up and said what happened to the woods? [laughter].te i didn't know that was funny when i wrote it.
my mother said, you will have to ask your son. charlotte ditka is a great character as well. that was it. boy, i got my ass whooped. that was the worst one i ever got.st i don't think i smoked a cigarette since, ditka paused, but i do smoke cigars. the safest place for such a soul, needing mayhem mixed in the with comfort of defined parameters was sports. it was perfect fit. anything that snacked of competition, little mike played with bottomless furry. they stole a ball autograph by pi e-train nor first kid hit a home run. ditka smacked one in his first came. in pony league, mike pitching, mike stalked out and made them switch positions. when the shortstop made an error he took that kid's place. another time playing legion ball, ashton who went on to a fine college baseball career at bucknell, drop ad game-winning flyball.
little mike chased his little brother out of the stadium and jumped fence and ran him down and thrashed him. it was bad, ditka said. i never filth like i was doing anything wrong. never ever. that has changed, right. i knew others didn't feel the way i felt. i had tunnel vision. i don't know where you get the competitive feeling. growing up it start the marbles, playing tag, touch football, stick ball i hated to lose whatever it was. you know why? i expected to win. i never expected to lose, never. that is why losing was so hard. that was a new attitude for a town that by the time ditka entered high school in '53 had its first taste of the football glory.y. baseball brought its first wipll town and basketball teams would regularly compete for wipl titles. ashton's toughness resonated like no clean single or give and
go ever could and winning made it irresistible. making the high school team became a badge of honor. why? that was part of what you were and part of what you were meant to be said john, who played a year behind ditka. why would a guy my size, john is about this big, who, why would a guy my size be starting guard in division 3 football. i'm not that damn good. if you were embarrassed to come home. i would not tell my father andti come home an tell him i didn't make first team. my senior year in high school, my senior year in college, that is what had to be done and there were many of me out there. you didn't dare embarass your family, your uncle, friends or neighbors. they didn't care if you got your ass kicked. johnny got his ass kicked but he gave the kid all he had. that is what it took. you still hear that all the time. the kid's tough, tough player. that's al quip pa. that is difference between aliquippa and hopewell and center and some schools.
the reason i read that to you, i feel like ditka really set the tone. he was invented in many ways by ashman. and that sort of manic larger than life fury really became a aliquipaa hallmark for star players. you have never met a boring player from aliquipaa, boring star player. they're always fascinating to talk to, interesting, larger than life. just a little bit crazy. i want to read you one other thing about, about hopewell, this is about geno piroli. in 1953, geno piroli, future aliquipaa post master, future aliquipaa historian, devoted partisan of aliquippa sports, moved to happywell. that is what you did given to the chance. worked as pipe fitter as j&l and leaving row house life and cramped neighborhoods in alley
quip past it wasn't his dad's time anymore. come through ellis island. live close to the mill you could feel its daily heave like the beast breathing until they cart you away like a box. housing developments are springing up all over the farmland surrounding the borough and raccoon and hopewell. a man could carve out space and quiet at last. hadn't they had enough excitement? moving to hopewell was the most tangible rewarded for promised people fought for in world war ii. a better life. in hopewell you get away from the street noise, bars, casual ethnic tension.yo count the day's cars on one road. raise kids in piece. nine other veterans moved to geno street, new development, crest month village, three bedroom bungalows. $13,000 a piece. living room kitchen, maybe one bedroom, maybe a baste. they would come as far as away from moon township. vince, the father of future
kentucky coach john cali parry, sorry, commuted into aliquippa as young man, working in then blast furnace, sweating off fiva pounds every eight hour turn. he last ad year. driving on rout, would point to the blazing fire skimming along the horizon. see that red line, i used to work beside that thing. if i stayed i would have died. for those who did stay the compensation carved out by the union, average wage of $24 a day, pensions and hourly minimum, 1.96 enabled steelworkers put distance between work and home. take a step up the social ladder. aliquippa was a small sample. starting in 1950, 18 of the nation's 25 cities began a 30-year slide in met population. u.s. suburbs grew by 60 million people. nobody blames them mike, the current coach, it was just natural. you do what is best for you and your family. still, hopewell was just a place
to lay your head then. downtown aliquippa was home. the meant went to work and pick up supplies and groceries, and when the whistle blew a drink. the san rocc festival, weekend parades, sons of italy, political club town bands, bishop of the pittsburgh diocese waving to honor the payson saint of patrica. they went on weekends to visit mom-and-pop who refused to move. unattached or night would drive in the weekly dance of aliquippa. sons of italy hall. costs a quarter for emission and hardwood shrieked from all the shoe leather and sweat. i want to talk about hopewell one more time because in 1964, hopewell and, had gotten big enough from the people leaving aliquippa and elsewhere, hopewell high, very close by,
only about three miles or so, from the pit, as it's a now a called, but from carl ashman stadium and,. so in 1964 which was the year that of carl ashman, who is the really the original great coach in aliquippa history won his final title, aliquippa played hope well. it was first time they ever played. they played for something called the steel bowl trophy. and doc medich was the quarter book. and doc later on got a football scholarship to pitt and went on to pitch for many teams in the major leagues and was only known as, i'm trying, hold on a second here. wasn't called doc then.
so, and so, what happened was that hopewell beat aliquippa that night. it was a stunning upset. and there is hue he put it, doc medi consider. h before all that good and bad, medich had one big moment to measure any big events the night hopewell kid took down toughest guy around. it was a big deal he said. everybody was surprised we won. everybody. even the guys on our team were surprised we won. we thought they were tougher than that. who didn't. in the an national of beaver county football wpil there is no greater upset the beaver county times announced the following monday. 25 years since ash space man declared so stunned by a loss. aliquippa top six league opponents for the class a a crown, sat silent waiting for the next miracle, "the times" went on. they are expressions would not
have changed if the earth opened up and swallowed quip stadium. some no doubt would have welcomed it. so that, hopewell, is a strange, they have a string relationship, hope well and aliquippa because there have been many efforts in recent years or at least flags thrown up by the aliquippa school district, officially or unofficially to somehow get a merger because obviously the population is getting smallerr and hopewell has no interest. there is, there is, at least so far, so there has been, there io a lot of resentment in aliquippa toward hopewell, even though it is sort of their brother. it is a strange -- because everybody, from aliquippa, or hopewell, many have aliquippa roots.
so let me just, just tell you a little bit about tony dorsett. so, eventually, when dr. steele was there, hope well became the power in aliquippa, hopewell became the aliquippa's football fell on terrible times. and, a lot of it was because of, i mean the racial problems in the schools were devastating. and i'll read this to you. the tables completely turned since hope well's top win in 1964.at vikings were the pawn. counter fact wall query what it tony dorsett played for aliquippa? hopewell folks dismiss entertainment of that notion of course. true no previous door sets ever went to aliquippa high. talent poach something constant of high school sports. with door set it would have been easy.un
the boundary between hopewell and aliquippa runs right through the middle of one home. hopping it for one school or the other is time honored tradition. sherman mcbride, current offensive coordinator and assistant head coach grew up in the '70s with his mother on the aliquippa side and his dad wanting him to go to hopewell in 8th grade. he moved in with his father at a house over the line. he last ad few days and neighbor told on him. he wasn't alone. hopewell in dorsett's day was known as whitey land according to aliquippa blacks. in 1960s, mount vernon felt effect of school busing to ease desegregation. they had a two mile walk to aliquippa high, seeing a bus take half their neighbors to hopewell. living life of aliquippa black, his father worked at a j and l.
tony ran some with the baby, baby bugaloos when at the tried to stir trouble in alley quip past when playing major league football at deciding age of 13 and 14, door set was not allowed to play because of hazy rules about age and weight limits. he and his best friend, mike kimbrough played for little steelers. in i in other era he was there for the taking. just as aliquippa schools were becoming bed ram, door set was walking calm halls of hopewell general juror high.y he kept tony home when rioting been it is peaks. if tony was candidate for aliquippa, that was past. in 1971, 72, you didn't want to go to aliquippa mike said. it was terrible place to go to p school. any aliquippa with talent was trying to get out soon. i almost did the same thing,
fred peek, tony's teammate on the little steelers. the chance to win a ball game every once in a while was zero to none. many in aliquippa chalk dorsett as hidden casualty of era, one that got away. two years later, don, all charm and grab and grins can would come back to begin the program's revival. dorsett was finishing his career for butch ross. 40 years later, the memory stings. he said i would never let him play for hopewell. i would have got his ass. i never lost anybody to hopewell. i used to get them pro hopewell. i used to take their players. when i got the job at aliquippa i never lost a player to hopewell again. and so, this is my last bit on hopewell and aliquippa.
mike taught creative writing year after year, worked as an assistant. kept an eye on frank morocco.t football crisis then right time came. in 1997 a year after the aliquippa school board handed him the basketball job and handed him football program. age of two sport coaches at named programs had long passed. that was desperate act of a desperate board in a desperate town. aliquippa was facing 12 million-dollar in bond debts and ever shrinking tax base. 80%. schoolchildren qualified for free lunches. pupils requiring more pupils than funding and 65% were black. ashman stadium had to be closed because no money was available for repairs. everybody in aliquippa assumed
that was a matter of race, of the white voters of hope well trying to insure their daughters would never date a black boy.ug they think they're better than we are said john, a white aliquippa gridiron standout, known as white chocolate, who graduated in 2001. pa what makes you better than me? a lot left aliquippa so they wouldn't have their kids there. always been that way. i date ad hopewell girl in high school. i think that feeling left me a bit. t i want to see their teams do well. you still have something down inside of you, they thought they were better than us. then again with all the news about crime and mayhem it was hard to argue any up sides for hopewell in merger. only sure thing they would offer is aliquippa's football talent, reining in that team, making sure players based was most t visible way to show the world the town was worth investing in, merging with, fighting for. the board need ad sheriff to stand firm against any threat to the town's most visible asset.
so, that was 1997. thats with last time hopewell played aliquippa until the other night. aliquippa won 35-30 in, in aliquippa at the pit. all this just goes to say or to show that for me, sometimes a town, small town isn't just a small town. sometimes it's a lot more. aliquippa to me is a lot more. there is a lot of american history there. there is some vital american history there. that's essentially important to us to this day. and sometimes a game is just a game. and sometimes it isn't. and, i would argue that that game, hopewell and aliquippa is always loaded in a way almost no game is.
so that's, that's it from me. no one wants to hear me read anymore, i'm sure. happy to take questions. [applause] >> thank you, scott. alan, turn the microphones on, please. we've got lisa roaming with the mic. i've got a mic here that's now on. feel free to raise your hand. we've got katie over there. feel free to raise your hand and we'll repeat the questions so everyone can hear it. i and, we've got a question. >> somebody has got to have a question. all the way up there? >> why are there noto photographs -- >> did everyone hear that. why are there no photographs in the book. >> you are wearing a quip sweatshirt. does that mean you were hoping, no i'm joking. >> to tell you the truth i think
it was financial thing and honestly the at the time tick thing i don't really know. first i would have to pay for the photographs and gather them. to tell you the truth, in terms of our deadlines we were running up against it. and there was something on midtores, no, maybe it was m money, i don't know, but there was something on my editor, you know what? i think it is not better there are not photographs. however, you're not the first one to ask that. i gotten that a lot. there has been a criticism of the book. i understand it. >> on that note one of the students this afternoon played for ambridge against al quip pad he wanted to ask you about the pit? visually describe the pit because it sounds like a pretty special place. >> the pit is a wpa stadium, works progress administration stadium built in 1937. in one year spate of stadium building in the state of
pennsylvania, astonishing number of stadiums were put up so quickly.uickly. amazed how slow infrastructure an building takes now adays because they really threw up stuff fast. the pit is falling apart. it is in need of great repair. and it's a tough, very tough place to come into, not just because aliquippa is so intimidating as a team and town now because its reputation precedes it. the visitors locker room, closed known as the dunk john, it was a hell hell hole for cramp, moist, dank unlit hole in the side of the stadium. sort of going back to what i was saying about dr. steele. yet the stadium is wedged on top, of a high hill, in aliquippa and it is gorgeous. there is no better place to see a high school football game, i'm sure everybody would argue with me, in terms of everybody has their favorite place, it is
gorgeous place to see a high school football game. >> great.oo got a question?ion right here. >> well, not really a question, but when you were talking about j&l, reminded me after song written by a local sort of folk songwriter where he said, what did j&l steal, pittsburgh, pets burke. i didn't sing it. >> your rendition was better than my singing. >> i did sing it to him earlier and i can't carry a tune. >> no, i mean it is funny because j&l, started off as this incredibly brutal boss in the, started off weirdly enough started off with the idea of building a utopia for the steelworker but pretty quickly, because things got out of control, they brought in harry mock and really clamped down in a vicious way on the populace.
but post-world war ii, i can't tell you how many people speak lovingly about j&l and the relationship after, after world war ii, essentially after the wagner act went through. j&l basically gave in, said okay, became a far more paternal listic and essentially partner in the town that many peoplevi look along loving. don't say same thing about ltv who replaced j&l in the '60s. it is interesting. to read the history, this was a place called little siberia. a place called little hell by union organizers in the '30s. and for it, for j&l to change and to have people, who even experienced that, then, really speak to how much of a partner in town j&l became. it was pretty niking to me. >> can you talk about how the team is thriving today against all odds? >> well, since i wrote, i mean, this book, went into, i mean i
finished it in january, and since then, i mean already another chapter is being written. i mean aliquippa then decided to go, it is single a, class a school, decided to move up and always was a aa school and decided to move up to aaa to compete for scheduling reasons. it is a town essentially with only three dozen boys in the senior class. meanwhile, meanwhile, i mean you have, you have this town since january, the team has been ravaged in a brutal way. i mean there is, their star running back demonte is suffering from lukemia, a recurrence of it. steelers wives are trying to get a bone marrow drive going or having it boeing on as we speak. darrelle revis's teammate on the 2003 championship team is the
7th or 8th player killed. his body was found on the side of a aliquippa road. this is gilliam. two-time purple heart winner, awarded purple heart twice for his service in iraq. there was another player, committed suicide at one point in the summer. and then the day this book was published, two football players were arrested for involvement in a murder, in town. so, and meanwhile, the team is-2 is-2 -- 8-2, and seeded number one in the first round of the playoffs. it is, it is, really frankly astonishing that they're able to do that. it may be a case of misplaced priorities. c we could probably argue that. but the fact that they're keeping on is remarksable, and
it's a tribute to the coaches and especially the assistant coaches. there are almost 20 of them there in aliquippa who come and volunteer. very few are paid. they're all former players. and they demand a standard from these players as do the families. in fact, people keep asking me why is it that aliquippa keeps winning? i do keep coming back to that standard utx law told me, he said this is not a place where you lose a game, attaboy, go get them next time. it's y'all suck. and that person is not a fan that you just met. it is your dad, your uncle or your cousin, and they make you feel like crap. he said, when i got to bill parcels with the patriots, and parcels was notorious for hazing rookies and, ty law, really, this is all you got? [laughter]
so, yeah, it's, it's, it's an astonishing place. i keep thinking it is not going to last. i keep thinking they will stopg producing a division i player or two or three or four every year, and yet it is still happening. i really thought this year, i mean, to beat hopewell 35-30, that is not aliquippa standard, i'm not predicting their demise this year in the playoffs but i really thought with all the hits they have taken off the field this was, and that they had gone up in class, that this, they were going to have a very hard time this year. they have had a harder time but they're still seeded number one, i'm wrong yet again. >> questions over there? >> what about the attendance at the games? does that stay pretty constant or less over the years? >> i think it has gone down. i have been to a lot of games, certainly the stadium is not jam-packed.
the interest in the team remains and, you certainly have a cadre of the former steelworkers under this roof set up for them at the pit but the interest in football remains, i would say the attendance at non-big games especially has gone down. i mean to me, which again, you're sort of saying, well, are people really interested in this town. you look at little quips, four different teams from four different age classes. 40 kids on each team and a waiting list still in that town. so, it's weird. sometimes i think the intense interest in football doesn't necessarily equate to attendance every week but when it comes t time for a big game, they're playing in ambridge tomorrow night. i expect a big contingent. >> somebody over there?s for yo >> hi, two questions for you please. you in your book mentions an nba
legend, is that nba legend pete maravich by any chance? >> yeah. i'm sorry. if you're talking about the beginning of the book where it is? >> i have no not read the book but my wife told me -- >> absolutely. press mayor very much, pete's dad and coached him played basketball in the '30s in aliquippa. pete maravich grew up until he was 13 until he was, and in aliquippa. press maravich was ditka that's basketball coach.an he got pissed off atafter a game and punch ad wall and broke his hand. if he played for press, if i'm right, what he said, pete maravich at 13 was better than anybody on the team. that little, he was better than all of us. shooting the hell out of ball.l. that is pete maravich.
>> my father told me stories playing against press marravich. >> he was from the farrell area. he was a tough player. my second question, did you beat barack obama in one-on-one? >> here it is again. [laughter]. all right. so, you're a less tough crowd than the kids in the, at pitt today. they were, they all, all they cared -- i hadn't played in a long time. [laughter] but obama i will say, he is quicker than me and he, but i'll tell you two stories. one is that, is that, my, i needed to, i suddenly realized that i got to play him one-on-one but write a column about it. this is in 2007 in iowa, just before he won iowa and became barack obama. so i put in for, hey, i want to play basketball with barack obama. by the way he almost never plays
one-on-one. he only plays team ball, but they, at that point he wasn't barack obama yet. they're like, sure. and by the way, so i played him two games of one-on-one, in between talked to him. 40 minutes, it was just unbelievable. but i realized that, oh, my god, if i, i can't, my whole conceit was you could learn about somebody by playing basketball with them, pick-up ball, what are they like, so on, so forth, how do they act? do they call tickky tack fouls? are they, i don't know, but, and so, but i realized i can't stop the game every point and write down what happened. [laughter]. so what am i going to do. this is "sports illustrated" where we're doing high-end stuff. i see my 13-year-old son, okay, you will film this for me. learn how to use the camera thing we found in the closet. like it was this old camera. he came with me to iowa.
and, again i hadn't played in a while.ay and so, i said to my son, all right, you're going to have to film this, but don't, i'm yourn, dad but don't pay any attention to me. y you he keep the camera on obama the whole time. before the game obama's running, warming up. he is across the gym floor. so i'm on my son now. my son is filming. he is i am inning obama and, i know this because we have the film of this. so he is filming, he is i am inning obama as he is going across. obama comes take as left, goes under the basket and says no dunking, believe me that was not a problem. he comes along. my son still doing it. you better -- unlike, me, who when obama came to his side, i would have put the camera down and filmed my shoe, instead my son, is smart, he is along a
lunk head, this is the time he flips the camera and have view of obama. now i'm obama, okay? my son is like, what the heck. and obama is like, so what, what kind of game does he have?gh and, my son gives me up. like he said, yeah he hasn't played. he is not in basketball shape.'t he hasn't played in a long time. says his shot is off. everything we talked about, my son. what is interesting, obama was kind of tick tack, he didn't call any foul. i tomahawked him. he said you could get shot for doing that. but he would always go, whoo, whenever i would shoot, which i felt was kind of cheap. [laughter] but he was, at one point i said to him, all right, this is for the presidency. he was at the top of the key and he hit it. and he didn't say anything. and i believe me, i didn't like think of that line.
actually just sprang up. i threw it out there. and i said, did you hear what i said? and he says, why do you think i hit it? [laughter] but that film of him where he is like gaming me out, was actually, wasn't a slick, smooth, great orator obama. it was the "kick-ass" competitor, sizing my up. you can see him, like, and my son actually got the best moment of it, because it was really the most revealing thing i've seen about obama. he is incredibly nice. he is a very smart guy. what people don't normally see is the killer. he is that as well.he but i hadn't played in a long time. [laughter] >> how did you do? >> i lost both games. [laughter] now, he said, in the first game, you know, he basically, i can't remember the score, it was not pretty. the second game, by the way, it
is much better for a writer if you lose. what do you say if i win, yes, i beat obama.er so there is an element. before the second game, i figured if you back me down more, you will score more. oh, yeah, why am i shooting from 30. i did back him down. it was closer game. >> got someone right here. >> i'm from aliquippa. i'm really glad you did the book. being from aliquippa, rest of the world recognize this? >> why doesn't the rest of the world recognize this? >> right. i'm glad you put it in writing. >> right. >> you mentioned carl ashman, my uncle one of the biggest ever aliquippa fans felt that he was, best football coach ever. and answer to your question may be there is some divine intervention involved there. he is, his influence hasn't faded. it has infaded. >> no.
he was, you know, also he had a, what the family called a paper heart. he had very bad heart trouble. his daughter died of heart trouble at i think at the age of 30, 32. you know, so, he was, outwardly an incredibly tough guy. frank morocco, his seconddfr successor, was playing a football game and got a punt smashed into his face and broke his nose and carl ashman walked up to him, went -- squeak. frank went back in the game. get back in there. i talked to other, don's brother spoke, he thought, actually ashman was a little too hard on guys that way. he felt, gene felt he didn't care -- as time as gone on, gene says i don't think he cared about his players as much as i would like him to. overall, ditka squares by him.
also people notably enough, i think it was richard mann, now receivers coach with the steelers, and richard mann and others really didn't notice any kind of racial component with carl ashman. they thought he was a straight-shooter and, andey respected him for that.. >> the other comment you made, mentioned the name geno per rolly, my italian mom and my uncle passed away in june he attended the funeral. he is in the ballpark and 90,e after he gave his condolences to my mom, pulls out a picture from, i don't know what year. she is 87 years old. she graduated from high school are around the same time. >> right. >> who are these girls in the picture? my mom who is slipping a littlee bit mentally, but she recognizee four faces just like that. gino was really happy with that. because he still active and,
just keeping, keeping aliquippa the place it always has. >> he is incredible treasure for that town because he is really a walking history book and knows more about it and, especially for the older generations, he knows stuff that will disappear. i hope i got some of it in. he was really helpful to me on the book. >> we've got someone over there. >> [inaudible] >> that was going to be my next question. who has an aliquippa, who is actually from aliquippa? and who has got aliquippa connection in your family, all the hands up? >> so, actually i have a question. i mean, i think of aliquippa as a special place. and i will tell you that i doa get arguments from other people who are like, from western pa.
yeah it's special but, my town -- so, does everybody from aliquippa believe that there is something unique and special about it? just put up your hands? yeah. yeah. i agree with you. >> [inaudible] >> yeah. right. >> [inaudible] >> and by the way, that was a home game for hopewell at the pit because they did play there for some reason. so you were at the game? >> [inaudible] [laughter]. >> wait, i didn't hear that. what did she say? >> your boyfriend, is that what you said? >> [inaudible] >> so did you have mr. blaney. >> my boyfriend was chuck blaney your boyfriend was chuck blaney. >> uh-huh. >> he ran over doc medich. c doc.
medich only completed three passes. chuck was the hero and his father taught at aliquippa high. >> he was my friend. he was something else. the game was something else. >> thank you. >> well i think i speak for everyone that we owe you a debt of gratitude for bringing the history of aliquippa to life and immortalizing it. >> thank you all for coming. [applause] i want to say thank you for coming from such a remarkable town. i mean it is really a special place. and, for good and bad. it is not, it's not a fantasy world and it's not all perfect but it is absolutely human and it is absolutely vital and completely american. >> let's give it up fora. aliquippa. [applause] we're going to go --
>> let's go quips. >> we'll take a minute and line everybody up. quick note about the signing line.. scott's going to come sit here. we'll form the line going this away and the easiest way to do that is go out the door you came in and turn left. if you still need to buy your book, the good folks from classic lines will sell you one or two or five. they make great christmas gifts. >> this is booktv on c-span2, television for serious readers. here is our prime-time line-up. tonight starting at 8:30 p.m. eastern, a look at first lady eleanor roosevelt. and at 10:00, sondra cisneros delivers the fairfax prize lecture. we wrap up our monday prime-time line-up at 11:30 with hillsdale college professor, bradley birzer talks about conservative writer, russell kirk. that happens tonight on c-span2's booktv.